In commemoration of today being Australia Day, The Independent has put together a basic guide to planning a trip Down Under. Despite never actually going into recession, like the rest of the world, the recent battering much of the country has received from Mother nature has been of near-Biblical proportion…and that has hit the economy hard. Consequently, your money might not go as far as it once did, hence you need to read this essential guide.
Despite the traumatic floods of recent weeks, Australia remains one of the most exciting and varied destinations on the planet. However, the days of almost three Aussie dollars to the pound are but a distant memory: it’s slumped as low as AUS$1.50, and closed at AUS$1.60 yesterday, making life punishingly expensive. But you can ease the burden…
“Australia is becoming the new Iceland when it comes to tourism – we’re too expensive, and difficult to get to.” Clive Dorman, The Sydney Morning Herald. In other words, Australia’s tourism officials are alarmed about the damage that the soaring dollar will have on visitor numbers.
Timing it right
The secret to finding relatively cheap deals to Australia is picking the right time of year to go. Almost all of the cheapest fares are for flights between mid-April and mid-June. This is when the weather isn’t the best in the southern Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but not the worst either (July and August can be surprisingly cold).
However, the wet season in tropical Queensland and the Northern Territory tends to end by mid-May. May and June can be the perfect time there – it’s largely dry, there’s lots of sunshine and the winter sun-seekers from the southern states have yet to arrive.
Good deals for this period are currently available with Cathay Pacific, which is offering flights to Perth for from £739, Melbourne from £819 and Sydney from £799 if you book before 17 February. Emirates is undercutting on the Perth route: £699 fares are available when booked before 31 January. That’s also the date when the Qantas sale ends.
The Australian airline is offering flights to Perth for from £699, Melbourne from £736, Darwin from £743, Cairns from £745 and Sydney from £749. Importantly, Qantas is allowing flights to be taken between 19 February and 31 March for just £40-£60 more.
It’s also worth checking out the Australian Flight Bargains website too.
Reef, rock, Opera House and…
OK, that’s a classic mistake. Think not of Australia as a country to “do” in a few weeks, but a continent to tackle a section or two at a time. That way you’ll have a more rewarding experience, in terms of expense and not spending the entire time getting from A to B. It is the size of Europe, or North America after all.
Pick a couple of bases according to your tastes and explore the surroundings properly. Adelaide, for example, is within easy reach of numerous major wine regions, a superb outback sampler in the Flinders Ranges and wildlife galore on Kangaroo Island. Cairns as a city is unspectacular, but it’s the perfect jumping-off point for reef, rainforest and adventure sports trips.
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